Purged Away With Blood
Cullen Bohannon had to take charge of a tricky hostage situation — and deal with a possibly greater danger facing an old friend — in “Purged Away with Blood,” Sunday’s episode of Hell on Wheels. If you missed all the action, here are the most important things you need to know before tuning in next Sunday.
This week the episode opens with the Swede and Reverend Cole riding with horses and a cart. Suddenly two Indians creep up from the grass and quietly come up behind them. One Indian shows the Swede some furs that he has and the two speak in the Indian’s language. Reverend Cole gets off his horse and they all go to the cart which is filled with stolen rifles. The reverend and The Swede hand them out to the Indians. They all seem happy. Not a good sign. Something is definitely up.
“Purged Away With Blood” focuses on the train carrying Durant to Chicago after last week’s shootout. On the way to get medical attention, part of the tracks is blown up by the Sioux and led by Reverend Cole. He and the Swede (or “The White Spirit,” as the Sioux call him) have given the Sioux a whole cart of guns to fight back against the Hell on Wheels crew ruining their land. Cole wants Durant to publish his insane manifesto, filled with his ramblings like “the crimes of the guilty land can only by purged away by blood,” or Cole will kill everyone on the train. Before now, Cole has been fun drunk, stumbling around the camp, preaching to those who will listen. Now, he’s a deranged shell of who he used to be, ready to kill because he believes that’s what God wants him to do.
The reunion of the family Cole is wobbly, too. Ruth (Kasha Kropinski) is still a cipher to me; I can’t get a handle on her character. Is she capricious or is it just off-handed writing because there’s been no real care taken with defining who Ruth is as a character? Her sudden emotional bonding with her father is a sentimental moment that doesn’t ring true for me. Joseph (Eddie Spears) fares better and plays truer to character, but then the writers are clearer on who he is than they are on Ruth.
Watch Hell on Wheels – Purged Away With Blood Online
HoW S02E06: Purged Away With Blood
And I enjoyed that for a show steeped within history, we got references to abolitionist John Brown and John Wilkes Booth. It not only reminds us of the era we’re watching, but the significance of men willing to spill blood for the cause. Of course, with a man like Bohannon, whose skill with the gun has given him many a death count, he had to add one more: the death of his friend, Doc.
Still, Cole’s death at the hands of Joseph and Doc’s execution by Bohannon do add into this episode’s most compelling idea, which much like “Slaughterhouse” is the creeping sense that none of this matters. Indeed, if there has ever been a coherent subtext underpinning Hell On Wheels, it’s that its post-Civil War setting captures a time when America has been shattered, and the unforgiving march of progress is more than any sane or moral man can bear. This is a bleak, unforgiving cosmos, and one must either go mad or throw away one’s old ethical codes.
Last week I said I expected a major Ruth/Joseph episode. This certainly delivered, but the repercussions for this pair were not explored at all. We’re going to be seeing a lot of recriminations and blame, and I hope it isn’t a dragged-out talkfest; these two can be a little preachy. Kasha Kropinski as Ruth is a particularly interesting actress when she’s not expected to purse her lips and look serious, so I hope we can see the more complicated, and more erotic, version of her character. Eddie Spears as Joseph has little range and doesn’t impress me, so I’d rather he not get too angsty. I doubt my wish will come true. To me, Joseph is the one weak spot in the whole show. I’d rather see Ruth respond to the advances of Sean McGinnes.
But really that’s what this episode is about. By the end, each character has blood on their hands. It’s handled by the writers and actors wonderfully. Cullen and Joseph are most affected by their actions and it shows. The argument could be made that each drop of blood is a way for their sins to be purged but in the case of Cullen, it’s just one more thing to push him towards the edge.
Joseph tells Reverend Cole that Jesus will forgive him if he lets everyone leave the train but the reverend says he plans to kill them all. Reverend Cole goes to Joseph and tells him that he loves him and the two hug. Then the reverend slumps over because Joseph stabbed him. Ruth is hysterical and Joseph leaves the train giving the knife to Cullen.
But now that Reverend Cole is dead, does that the mean the insanity will slow down, or speed up with help from The Swede? Here’s hoping Hell on Wheels doesn’t stop the craziness that makes it compelling when it goes all in. I am keenly interested in how the writers will handle her new reality. There have been no female writers on the show so far, and so far the writing staff has done well with Lily by and large. This will be the test, and I’ll be watching.
Incoming search terms:
- hell on wheels indian
- hell on wheels indians